Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Sermones Catholici or Homilies of Aelfric

I’m already flourishing in the wonderful libraries of Oxford. Being surrounded by old books, stained glass, and portraits of English worthies glaring down on my studies inspires me.

Perhaps my most important discovery thus far is the Catholic Homilies of Aelfric.

I first came across some of them browsing in the Upper Reading Room of the Bodleian. I quickly was impressed and edified by them though I’ve only read or skimmed a few just yet. I’ve even found good material for my Sunday School. I particularly find the sermons for Advent Sunday and for Christmas creative and insightful. Brilliant medieval minds often found gems in the scriptures us moderns miss today.

But it took me a while to find a good complete set of them . . . in modern English. I very much wanted to find such, not only for my current studies but to acquire for future study, even if I had to pay up to acquire an old edition. And what I did found was old, from the 1840’s, Benjamin Thorpe’s The Homilies Of The Anglo-Saxon Church: The Sermones Catholici; Or Homilies Of Aelfric, in two volumes.

The format is excellent, with the Old English on one side (Aelfric (of York?) compiled the sermons in the 11th century.) and a modern English translation on the other. The sermons cover at least most of the church year and additional topics as well.

So imagine my joy to find reasonably priced reprints are available online. Thanks be to God!

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